Bronze is the New Gold: Mark McMorris Braves a Rib Injury to Capture Bronze in Sochi
By Smoke Stark
Canada’s Mark McMorris snowboarded his way into the countries’ hearts with his gutsy performance in the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle competition at the Sochi games. One week before the Olympic games, McMorris was competing at the 2014 Winter X-Games in Aspen, Colorado. A medal favourite in the competition, McMorris had two solid runs that saw him take second spot going into the final run of the day. Fellow Canadian Max Parrot was sitting in the first place spot. Seen as the best in the world for the slopestyle discipline, McMorris wanted to capture first place in order to ride a hot streak going into the Olympics. The start of his last run went like clockwork, as he executed the first two rail sections with ease, but then disaster struck. McMorris jumped awkwardly onto the last rail before heading onto the jump portion of the course. His body crashed against the rail with such force that fans and onlookers instantly knew something was very wrong. Not only were people worried for his safety but also for his Olympic hopes. The next day, the snowboarding world was holding their breath, waiting to find out the extent of McMorris’ injuries. McMorris’ Olympic dreams were in jeopardy when he found out that he had broken a rib. That’s when his Olympic story truly began. Going against doctors’ orders, McMorris vowed he would compete for his country at the Sochi games.
Upon arriving at the games, he exclaimed to the media and his fans that his ribs were healing better than expected and that he would once again be a threat for a gold medal. Having his sport make its debut in the Olympics was motivation enough for him to brave the course of Rosa Khotar Extreme Park. There are three rounds that the boarders have to go through in order to have a chance at a medal: qualification, semifinal and final. Mark McMorris stood at the starting gate looking as poised as ever to show why he is considered the best in the world at what he does, but then disaster struck again as he fell trying to complete the last jump. One could see on his face that all was not well with his body as every breath looked as though it was a struggle. Unfortunately, the fall that he had endured cost him the chance to advance straight to the finals, but his Olympic medal hopes were still alive. In the semifinals, Mark McMorris showed the world what he was made of and put up one of the top scores, an 89.25, to advance to the final day of snowboard slopestyle. The rest of the field was on notice as the number one ranked slopestyle boarder was poised to make Olympic history as the first Olympic champion in his field. Again, looking calm, cool, and collected at the starting gates, McMorris boarded his first two runs like magic as his height and trick tops garnered him second place going into the last run of his Olympic games. In slopestyle, the best score of three runs is the score that counts. Seeing that Sage Kotsenburg of the United States and Staale Sandbech of Norway had pushed him down to third in the standing, Mark McMorris put his bravery to the ultimate test. He started his last run with some great technical rails and then went onto the massive jumps that Rosa Khotar is now well known for, but then his gold medal dreams evaporated in one fateful moment as he tried a trick that had not been attempted before, but ended up falling on his back and unable to complete the run. Mark McMorris captured the Bronze medal and Canada’s first medal of the games. The bronze medal might as well be gold around his neck as every Canadian that followed his journey for the past few weeks knew the pressure and the pain that he was under. At such a young age, Mark McMorris is a shining example of how the Olympics can bring out the best in people no matter the obstacles that are in their way.